Monday, June 28, 2004

Bicycling is sometimes better than walking...

I remember buying my first bike when I was about 10 or 11 years old. My Uncle Bill sold me his son’s old bike. It was little more than a chain and a frame, but he charged me 40 cents for it and roared with laughter when I asked about a guarantee. He gave me one: it was unconditional and would last for one hour after purchase. At the same time, he sold his daughter’s old bike (complete and in operating condition) for 10 cents to my little sister, even though she was several years away from being able to ride it. Dad paid, and Mary Anne loved the idea. She didn’t know what guarantee meant, and apparently, I didn’t know what color coordination meant. My finished bike was painted with yellow and orange stripes. After a few weeks of riding an embarrassed zebra, I was eager to save for a new one. I guess repainting it never crossed my mind.

My second bike was a new, red Columbia with basket, enclosed horn, and heavy fenders. It weighed nearly as much as a horse. Dad co-signed for me; Suresky’s Tire Center gave me credit; and I pedaled to the showroom every week to pay $2 (Mom claims it was $1.25) until I completely owned my bike. As expected, immediately after the final payment, it began to fall apart, starting with the horn.

But it did help me in delivering the afternoon newspaper. Most of the time I relied upon it. It helped me move from the Times-Herald to my customers, Saturday was best, as it was usually a thin paper. That was best. Easy to fold and easy to deliver. I hated the thick editions. They were heavy and impossible to fold for throwing.

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